Alumni and longtime university supporters Lois and Darryl Goss are creating a presidential chair in African American and African studies at the University of California, Davis, to provide sustained funding for teaching, research and outreach about the history and culture of communities of African descent around the world.
“We specifically created this presidential chair due to the current climate around social justice — we want to bring diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront of everyone’s mind,” Darryl Goss said. “We need to provide appropriate support toward educational opportunities to generate more interaction and understanding of underrepresented people’s histories.”
The Austin and Arutha Goss Presidential Chair in African American and African Studies is named in honor of Darryl Goss’ parents, whom he and his wife credit with teaching them the value of education and lifelong learning.
Funded by a $1.5 million gift from the Gosses plus $500,000 from the UC Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs, this will be the first endowed chair in the Department of African American and African Studies. The chair holder will be a senior scholar who has contributed substantially to knowledge within the field.
“Darryl and Lois Goss’ commitment to UC Davis is always remarkable,” said Ari Kelman, interim dean of the College of Letters and Science. “This gift will position the College of Letters and Science to build on its 52-year tradition of excellence in ethnic studies while launching a new era of leadership in African American and African studies. We are enormously grateful for their generosity.”
Aggie Pride with worldwide impact
The couple, who now reside in Indianapolis, met while attending UC Davis. Darryl Goss graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Afro-American studies (as the department was called at the time). Today he is chief executive officer at Inform Diagnostics, a leading provider of anatomic pathology services. Lois Goss graduated in 1985 with a B.A. in sociology.
As two of UC Davis’ most involved alumni, the Gosses have long been dedicated to the university’s mission to make the world a better place. Lois Goss serves on the College of Letters and Science Dean’s Advisory Council, the Women and Philanthropy Advisory Council and the Davis Chancellor’s Club Cabinet. Darryl Goss currently serves as the UC Davis Foundation Board chair.
The benefactors have created numerous endowments across campus in honor of people who encouraged and inspired them while students, such as the Gary Perkins Academic Achievement Student Award in the Department of African American and African Studies, and the Joe Singleton Athletic Scholarship. With their new endowed chair, they are also lead donors to the university’s $2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign, “Expect Greater: From UC Davis, for the world.”
“Lois and Darryl are building an enduring legacy to elevate the university’s research and teaching about communities of African descent, which will benefit our world today and for generations to come,” Chancellor Gary S. May said. "The Goss gift supports and builds upon UC Davis’ deep and continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion."
Never too late
Austin Goss, 86, and Arutha Goss, 85, are true examples of lifelong learners. Lois Goss said her mother-in-law “supported all of her siblings to attend college, but when it came time for her to go, she had to help with the family farm. That didn’t stop her from achieving her goals.”
Arutha Goss began attending community college classes when Darryl Goss was a student at UC Davis. She earned an Associate of Arts degree, but didn’t stop there. She went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, and — at age 70 — earned her doctorate in theology.
“Darryl’s mother helped me realize that my education is just as important as anyone else’s,” Lois Goss said.
Austin Goss would be the next to go to college, earning a bachelor's degree in business after he had retired from his 20-year career in the military.
“Education is really important to both my parents, and they have supported us as a family to persevere and know our worth,” Darryl Goss said. “They set the perfect example of having a good work ethic, which is why we want to recognize them in our gift to UC Davis.”
Lifting up today’s students
The Gosses say their time at UC Davis gave them the confidence to reach their professional and personal dreams. When they were in college, the Afro-American studies department was like their “beacon, because the community was uplifting, encouraging, strengthening and motivating.”
“Lois and I were first exposed to Black history at UC Davis and learned the positive contributions and challenges of African Americans,” Darryl Goss said. “We hope that our gift will allow the department to support excellent faculty who will ensure continuity and advance the field of study.”
The Gosses have raised two sons, Derrick and Nicholas, and two nephews, Wesley and John. Today, they encourage their grandchildren, Joe and Dejia, to take action and follow their dreams.
Lois Goss noted that many students today face the same challenges she and her husband endured, such as discrimination and fear of succeeding.
“We want to dispel those fears and untruths among anyone who feels like they don’t belong, especially at UC Davis,” she said. “Getting into UC Davis is no small feat, and the fact that you are here says a lot about who you are and where you came from.”
Darryl Goss added: “We want this gift to be a legacy that we can build on so when students move on to become successful leaders, they too can come back and help the next generation of Aggies.”
— Betsy Towner Levine, UC Davis Development and Alumni Relations